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Small business, big ideas - 06/05/2009

First European SME week supports small businesses and encourages entrepreneurship.

Some 99% of all European companies are small businesses - SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises), with fewer than 250 employees. As major employers and the main source of new jobs, they are expected to play a crucial role in lifting the European economy out of the current slump.

The commission is holding the first European SME week from 6 to 14 May. Over 1 000 events will take place in 35 countries, raising awareness among entrepreneurs of the types of support available. People will also be encouraged to start their own companies.

The week of activities is intended to create an EU-SME partnership – where the EU offers support and advice and small businesses become more competitive and stimulate the economy. The events will also offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to share best practice and experiences.

Activities will also raise awareness of the EU’s Small Business Act, which seeks to create the same opportunities for all small and mid-sized companies around the EU and to help them grow by cutting red tape.

The act’s “think small first” principle urges policymakers to consider the impact of any new rule on small businesses, to avoid creating unnecessary legal and administrative burdens for them. The commission is also making it easier for smaller companies to obtain financial support from the European Investment Bank and encouraging women and young people to start their own business.

In the past five years, the Commission has also eased its restrictions on government support, making it easier for small companies to apply for public procurement contracts. It is currently addressing the problem of late payment by client firms, which makes it hard for companies to pay their own bills on time and forces many small businesses into bankruptcy.

European web portal for small businesses

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